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SPARC Partners with Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

For Immediate Release
June 22, 2004

For more information, contact:
Alison Buckholtz, <alison@arl.org>


Effort Aims to Build Endowment and Sustain Open-access Publication
for Newest SPARC Partner
Washington, DC
SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has
announced its support for an innovative effort in collaboration with the
International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) and the Southeastern
Library Network (SOLINET) to marshal library support for long-term open
access to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP)
<http://plato.stanford.edu/>. The initiative aims to build an endowment
sufficient to cover SEP's continuing operating costs and sustain its free
accessibility on the public Internet.

SPARC has designated the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy a SPARC
publisher partner, and is encouraging its members to use funds allocated
from their SPARC purchase commitment to help build the SEP endowment. The
new partnership between SPARC and SEP allows SPARC to broaden its support
for open access publication and continue to reach into the humanities.

The global funding initiative for SEP, organized by ICOLC and administered
by SOLINET, aims to generate US $3 million over three years from the
academic and library community. In addition, Stanford University will try
to raise $1.125 million (over 3 years) from private donors, corporations,
etc., in support of the SEP. The ICOLC, SPARC, SOLINET and Stanford are
working together to submit grant proposals to help in the fund-raising.

Founded in 1995, SEP is a dynamic, community-maintained digital-only
reference work. It currently contains more than 500 entries in 35 subject
areas, including philosophy of science, aesthetics, history of ideas,
feminism, ethics (theoretical and applied), social and political
philosophy, and logic. New entries and updates are added on a regular
basis. Edward Zalta, SEP editor and Senior Research Scholar at Stanford
University's Center for the Study of Language and Information, said he
expects to have 700 entries by 2006. A prestigious board of editors
rigorously referees all new entries and updates. Authors and subject
editors contribute their expertise free of charge.

Because its content is readily accessible via popular web search engines
such as Google, SEP is widely used by scholars, students and the general
public. The encyclopedia is accessed more than 300,000 times per week on
its principal web site at Stanford University and three mirror sites at
universities in Sydney, Amsterdam, and Leeds.

ICOLC, with participating representatives from almost 170 consortia in
over 75 countries, has taken a leadership role in supporting the Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy. "Rather than simply allow for the real
possibility that the SEP will cease being openly available under a
traditional subscription publishing model, the ICOLC is attempting to
coordinate world-wide collective action that will result in a better
long-term open access model at ultimately less cost to libraries and
scholarly communities," said ICOLC representative Tom Sanville, Executive
Director of OhioLINK.

"The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is the first project to have
organized a profession to collaboratively write and maintain a dynamic
reference work -- one that is constantly updated to reflect the latest
developments in scholarship," said Zalta, the SEP editor. “The biggest
challenge has been finding a way to recover our operating costs. We are
grateful for ICOLC’s leadership and vision, which proves that new,
creative solutions can emerge when libraries and faculty work together."

"The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a compelling demonstration of
the potential of open access in the humanities,' said Rick Johnson,
Director of SPARC. “Because its full text is available to anyone with an
Internet connection, SEP is more likely to be consulted than just about
any other philosophy reference work -- a significant achievement for so
young and unconventional a publication. Library support of ICOLC's bold
initiative can put SEP on a sound long-term footing and stimulate other
communities to think creatively about the opportunities presented by our
networked environment."

SOLINET is one of the largest U.S. library consortia, and it has been very active in working with other consortia nationally. It also has extensive experience in the administrative aspects of managing offers of electronic resources over time. With SEP, SOLINET is combining this interest and expertise by serving as one of the collection points for pledges to the project and, later, serving as the fiscal agent for the collection and channeling of funds to build the endowment. SOLINET will also pursue contributions to SEP from its member libraries.

Much of the library support for SEP is expected to be funneled through library consortia, although individual libraries also are encouraged to participate. ICOLC is asking libraries for their commitments of support by September 2004. Philosophy departments are being asked to endorse the SEP plan in communications to their library. Full details are available at <http://plato.stanford.edu/fundraising/>.


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) was conceived and developed at Stanford University's Center for the Study of Language and Information <http://www-csli.stanford.edu/>. The SEP went online in September 1995 and a proof of concept was established by September 1998. Since 1998, the SEP has been the recipient of NEH grant #PA-23167-98 ($131,400), NSF/Digital Libraries grant #IIS-9981549($528,900), NEH grant #PA-50133-03 ($300,828), and an Officer's Grant from the Mellon Foundation ($43,000).

The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) is an informal organization that began meeting in 1997. Comprising over 160 library consortia across the globe the Coalition represents thousands of member libraries worldwide. The Coalition serves primarily higher education institutions by facilitating discussion among its members on issues of common interest. ICOLC conducts meetings to keep its members informed about new electronic information resources, pricing practices of electronic providers and vendors, and other issues of importance to consortium directors and their governing boards. These meetings also provide a forum for consortial representatives to meet with the information provider community, discuss their products, and engage in a dialog with Coalition members about issues of mutual concern. The ICOLC also maintains listservs and web pages for the benefit of its members. Additional information about the ICOLC can be found at <http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia>.

The Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET) is a 2,500-plus membership network of libraries and other information organizations which work in collaboration with national and international partners to provide leadership for cooperative action, improve access to information, and enable members to effectively anticipate and address the region’s needs for education, economic development, and improved quality of life. Further information can be found at <www.solinet.net>.

SPARC and SPARC Europe are initiatives of universities, research libraries, and library organizations that support increased competition in scholarly publishing. SPARC publishing partnerships and educational activities encourage expanded dissemination of research and reduced financial pressure on libraries. Worldwide membership currently includes 277 institutions and organizations. SPARC is located on the web at <www.arl.org/sparc>. SPARC Europe is at <www.sparceurope.org>.